Culinary Students Go Vegan

2 Nov

The culinary arts students at Atlantic Cape Community College have been studying the diversity of cuisine, especially with respect to special dietary needs.  At Carême’s restaurant, where students test their culinary creativity while running a restaurant, the students have now had three opportunities this year to wow a crowd of vegans and veg-curious.  It began this past spring when the American Vegan Society and the Dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts teamed up to co-host an all-vegan fine dining experience that would be a special treat for local-area vegans and vegetarians as well as an important learning experience for the students.

As the Dean explained during the second vegan dinner in September, she expects all her students to graduate with the experience of cooking for specialty diets as marketable skills in acquiring restaurant jobs.  She also noted, as a paraphrase of a comment made at one of her industry conferences, when a group of people look for a restaurant, if there is even one vegan or vegetarian in the party, they will choose a restaurant that accommodates that person.  Therefore, restaurants who refuse to adapt will lose the business of that whole group.

So take that, steakhouses!

The students, many of which are about to graduate this semester, brainstormed and designed the menu together, and cooked from fresh ingredients, including herbs and micro-greens from their on-campus greenhouses.

Once again, the crowd was wowed as each of five courses appeared at the tables.  First, a corn and coconut bisque arrived, garnished with fresh cilantro, cherry tomato halves, and drops of red pepper oil and green chive-infused oil.  The smooth body of the soup, along with the burst of fresh corn niblets delivered rich flavors with every spoonful.

Next, we savored the smoothness of a brilliant green edamame-truffle hummus on triangular fried flatbreads, topped with curled pepper ribbons and parsley.  The creamy and crispy textures blended exquisitely in bite-sized pieces.

The third course combined cold vermicelli noodles with raw pea shoots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots in raw spring rolls, providing a cool and crunchy texture in a hint of a spicy sauce.

Despite the abundance of these first three courses, the students had more for us.  Wild mushroom risotto and eggplant provided a rich and creamy bed to charred tofu, sesame seeds, watercress, and micro-greens known as bull’s blood.

In keeping with the fall season, dessert was a green apple cobbler with rice syrup and hints of ginger and cinnamon.  The tartness of the apple and sweetness of the cobbler  were both enhanced by the ginger.

Some attendees were so full, they requested take-home boxes.  Instead, the students returned with these creative swans as containers for their leftovers.

We concluded our dinner with a well-roasted coffee and soy milk, of course, and a few short words from the hosts.  At the conclusion, the lone vegetarian student chef in the program thanked us for our support and told the following tongue-in-cheek joke:  “Why did the tofu cross the road?  To prove it wasn’t chicken!”

As these students complete their restaurant class and move on to graduation or additional studies, a new group will be taking on the project in spring, at least once, and so a new generation of chefs will be educated on the rich flavors derived from the plant kingdom.

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One Response to “Culinary Students Go Vegan”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Food Paparazzi « Jerseyveganchick's Blog - November 11, 2010

    […] all-vegan gourmet dinner co-sponsored with American Vegan Society.  Read about the third one here.  (In order from left to right) first: butternut squash soup with pumpkin-spice croutons […]

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